David Imrie

Many small businesses are switching to a health spending account (HSA) because it gives them the ability to give their employees better, more flexible benefits. There’s also the added incentive that employees’ benefits are all tax-free, and employers get a tax deduction come tax time.


Download our free guide on all the health benefits your employees need and  want.


An HSA replaces the traditional workplace benefits a company usually offers. Instead of employees having a set amount of money they can spend per health category (such as $200 a year for physiotherapy), employees are given a lump sum of money in their health spending accounts by their employer, and they can use that money for their healthcare in whatever manner they see fit. 


An HSA provides employers and employees with more control over their healthcare benefits, and employees can spend their money on any CRA-approved healthcare expense. There are some expenses, however, that are not CRA approved, which can’t be claimed with a health spending account.

1. Blood Pressure Monitors

If you have a blood pressure problem, your prescription medication is covered by a health spending account. However, if you require a blood pressure monitor, that isn’t covered by a health spending account. You’ll need to purchase one yourself in order to keep track of your blood pressure.

2. Organic Food

While there is some debate about whether or not organic food is better for you, it’s not covered by a health spending account. If you have celiac disease and have to buy special food, the cost difference between gluten-free food and non-gluten-free food is covered. But, if you’re just interested in eating organic food, then you’ll have to pay for it out of pocket because, medically speaking, there isn’t a reason as to why you need to have it.

3. Over-the-Counter Medications

All prescription medications are covered by a health spending account, but, like with traditional workplace medical benefits, over-the-counter medications are not.

4. Athletic or Fitness Club Fees

If you routinely go to the gym to keep in shape, it’s something you’ll have to pay out of pocket.  An HSA doesn’t cover gym memberships or athletic or fitness club fees. Some companies, however, will have some kind of partnership with a gym so their employees can get a corporate discount.

5. Birth Control Devices (Non-Prescription)

Prescription birth control is covered by a health spending account, but any kind of birth control device that doesn’t require a prescription, such as condoms, is not covered.

 6. Supplements and Vitamins

Many people buy supplements and vitamins in order to help boost their health and immune system. For many people, it’s an easy way to ensure they’re receiving their daily vitamin intake. However, supplements and vitamins are not covered by a health spending account because they’re considered to be over-the-counter medication.

7. Diaper Services

New families go through countless diapers. For some, the environmental cost of disposable diapers is too high and they switch to a diaper service that sends them clean cloth diapers and takes the dirty ones away. It’s much better for the environment, but unfortunately, at this time, it isn’t covered by an HSA.


While there are some medical expenses you can’t claim with a registered health spending account, the list of expenses that are covered is far more expansive.


The Complete List of CRA Allowable Medical Expenses

David Imrie

Dr. David Imrie founded RHSA Canada in 2009. Dr. Imrie is a medical doctor and former health insurance professional who has a passion for helping small businesses reduce their healthcare costs. As an executive in the insurance industry, he was shocked to find that so many common healthcare services are covered only partially by most insured plans, when employees were entitled to 100% coverage for all prescription drugs, dental services, and other healthcare expenses. Since leaving the insurance industry in 2001, Dr. Imrie committed to using newer technology to develop a better alternative program for small business health benefits.
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